Robot Skin Can Feel Touch, Sense Chemicals, and Soak Up Solar Power

Posted: June 20, 2011 in Technology
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the article:

When you meet your robot overlord, it may be wearing super-intelligent skin designed by a Stanford researcher–a solar-powered, super-sensitive, chemical-sampling covering that makes your meatbag covering look pathetic.

Zhenan Bao is behind the advances, and the recent development centers on a stretchable solar cell system that can expand and shrink along two different axes, making it perfect for incorporation into artificial skin for robots, human prosthetic limbs, or even clothing.

Bao’s earlier successes with artificial skin have resulted in a highly flexible and durable material, which is part of a flexible organic-chemistry transistor, built on a thin polymer layer. When the skin is subjected to pressure, the current flowing through the transistors is modified as tiny pyramid shapes molded into the polymer layer compress, resulting in a super-sensitive transducer that can apparently detect the pressure from a house-fly’s feet. By modifying the transistor with a biological coating, it’s even been possible to make the “super skin,” as Bao calls it, detect the presence of particular chemicals or biological molecules.

The latest advance has seen Bao adding a corrugated microstructure organic solar cell layer into the skin. The clever folding in this layer allows it to be stretched along two axes…by up to 30% beyond its original length. This lets her coat pretty much any human-like joint with the skin and still have it collect enough solar power to run its sensor array, even when the skin is stretched and distorted over complex joints like elbows. Cleverly, the flexible solar array is connected into a circuit via a liquid metal electrode, which conforms to the particular shape of the solar cell at any particular moment.

Ugh I’m really starting the get tired of all the “The robots are going to take over the world” crap, it’s not going to happen.

Now on to the article, I can see some really sweet applications for this tech, I mean it would benefit so many fields like firefighters and people who need full body protection because of the risk of contamination.

Even the medical field would benefit, think of coating the instruments with this and hook then up the the medical professionals nerve-system, he/she would now have an instrument which is to it’s truest sense and extension of his/her body.

I need to stop now, I can come up with new uses for this all day.

Original site. (I suggest you read the whole thing).

WOG out.

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